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Health Team

Tested positive? Your next step is to pick up the phone when contact tracers call

Posted November 27, 2020 6:48 p.m. EST

— As COVID-19 cases rise across the state and more are expected in the weeks to come, some are wondering who they call after getting that positive result.

One woman reached out to WRAL News after she was having trouble getting a hold of health department officials.

The woman, whose son attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said her symptoms included night sweats, coughing and weakness. Her husband and son felt ill, too.

After their tests came back positive for COVID-19, she tried to figure out where the virus came from.

She believes her son may have contracted it at a party with some other students and then brought it home.

"I am worried about the students," she said. "I’m just worried about the university as a whole, you know, and not just for the students but for the faculty and for these students who may be going home or have been home and didn’t even know they had been exposed."

The woman spent hours making calls, trying to alert the university and county health officials about the cases in her family.

"I couldn't get anyone on the phone because it’s the holidays," she said.

A spokesman for the Orange County Health Department said she needn't have worried.

Every positive test result is reported to the state Department of Health and Human Services, that department then tells the county where the person tested positive and county employees begin contact tracing with a call to the person.

The woman said she was trying to do what she thought was the right thing and alert those she thought needed to know. Contact tracers with the Wake County Health department contacted her on Friday afternoon.

"My biggest thing was just trying to reach out to the university to say, hey you know, there was a gathering and there were a lot of your students at the gathering. Some kids were feeling not well the next day," she said.

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